If one parent has not been active in a child’s life for a significant period of time and the child has established a close bond with a step-parent, it may be in the child’s best interest for the present parent to adopt the child. A legal adoption will ensure that the step-parent has all of the legal rights and responsibilities to care for the child.

Once a step-parent legally adopts a minor child, the legal relationship with the other biological parent is terminated, and the step-parent becomes responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the child. This includes the right to custody and control of the child and responsibility to financially care for the child. Additionally, the child will have the right to inherit from the step-parent.

There are many legal requirements that must be met before a step-parent can adopt a minor child. The adopting parent must be married or in a domestic partnership with the biological parent, and the spouse must consent to the adoption. The other biological parent must either agree to the adoption or his/her parental rights must be legally terminated by the court. Additionally, the adopting parent must be at least 18 years old and 10 years older than the minor child. Lastly, the minor child must consent if s/he is 12 or older.

When a biological parent’s parental rights have been terminated and a step-parent adopts the child, the adoption cannot be revoked or nullified except in rare circumstances. It also cannot be revoked if the step-parent and biological parent divorce or separate.  This is due to the public policy that it is best that children have consistency and stability while growing up.

Because the continued presence of two loving parents is important for a child’s emotional development, it may be best to seek a step-parent adoption in certain circumstances. To learn more about the process of adoption and/or termination of parental rights, contact Law Office of Elisabeth Donovan to speak with an experienced family law attorney.